Ripple Effects

Transformational $5 million donation to mental health inspires others
Participants at Kicks for Strength event pose underneath soccer net.
Kick for Strength participants coming to show their interest in mental health care and taking part in the events' soccer game.

Ryan Finch’s $5 million donation to mental health care research at St. Joseph’s is creating a ripple effect. Several community events, including Kicks for Strength and the popular Forest City Cycling Challenge, were inspired by his generosity.

As news of the landmark donation spread in June 2023, the Machado family members and friends were searching for a mental health cause to support. Their event, the inaugural Kicks for Strength fundraiser was scheduled to take place just two months following the announcement. And the group was searching for a cause to honour the memory of their son, brother, cousin, nephew and friend, Cameron Harvey Machado, who died at the age of 25.

The timing of the Finch donation was perfect.

Mackenzie Machado and her family standing together
Mackenzie Machado and her family are determined to do what they can to aid in the research of mental health issues by organizing the Kicks for Strength event.

‘We had never heard of MINDS (Mental Health Incubator for Disruptive Solutions) before Finch’s announcement,” says Mackenzie Machado, Cameron’s cousin. “But it resonated with us because it was research helping youth with mental health issues with input from youth with mental health experience.”

Cameron Harvey Machado, who sadly passed away at the age of 25.
Kicks for Strength is dedicated to the loving memory of Cameron Harvey Machado.

Mackenzie describes Cameron as a gentle soul with an infectious laugh who could instantly brighten someone’s day with his warmth and sense of humour. But he was also the biggest example of someone who was struggling – because most people didn’t realize the pain he was experiencing.

Cameron suffered with anxiety for years, and received only intermittent relief from medication. And in July 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he lost his debilitating battle with mental health.

Refusing to let their grief be in vain, Cameron’s family, who were already planning a fundraising event, embraced Finch’s donation and the cause it was supporting. Soon everything fell into place for their event.

More than 500 people ended up attending the inaugural Kicks for Strength event in August 2023, raising more than $43,000 for MINDs.

Empowered by the funds raised and the overwhelming community response, Mackenzie promises the 2024 Kicks for Strength, which they expect to host in the summer of 2024, will be bigger and better.

“I firmly believe that this type of event is helping people out there who are struggling silently and need to see the support from community events like ours,” says Mackenzie.

Participants cycling down the bike route
Cyclists enjoying the scenic bike route mapped out for them during the Forest City Cycling Challenge.

Entering its fourth year, the 2024 Forest City Cycling Challenge (FCCC) expects the heightened awareness of mental health issues generated from Finch’s donation will give their event an even greater push. In previous years, FCCC has supported youth mental health research, MINDS and the purchase of exercise bikes for patients at St. Joseph’s. In total, the community event has raised more than $150,000 during the past three years.

“Whenever you see a leader, a community leader step forward to support a cause that is universal like mental health, it helps everyone,” says Alfonso Campos Reales, co-founder of the FCCC and board member with St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.  

“With the size of his donation, Finch deservedly garnered so much attention and traction for the cause,” adds Alfonso who has seen participation at the FCCC increase annually due to the growing awareness of mental health issues.

“I hope we can continue to make progress around mental health in the community.”

The 2024 FCCC will be held on June 2, registration is now open.

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